CES '09: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable
Mobile TV service MediaFLO made good on its plans to
by announcing at CES a deal with Audiovox to create in-car video displays that receive the live MediaFLO broadcast service.
The deal, which was announced in Las Vegas by Audiovox Electronics Corp. president Tom Malone and MediaFLO USA president Gina Lombardi at the Audiovox press event, will first result in a MediaFLO receiver aimed at existing after-market in-car video displays, then evolve to in-car displays installed in new automobiles.
The aftermarket FLO system will provide a “seamless installation” with existing displays and will sell for under $500, with “very affordable monthly service fees,” said Malone. The current MediaFLO service, which is marketed by Verizon Wireless and AT&T to cellphone subscribers, costs $15 monthly for a base service of 10-15 channels with programming from major networks like CBS, NBC, Fox, MTV and Comedy Central.
“This is a new distribution partnership for us,” said Lombardi, who noted that MediaFLO’s coverage and channel lineup will grow as a result of the Feb. 17 turnoff of high-powered analog broadcast signals. By getting new spectrum that will be cleared by existing analog broadcasters, MediaFLO should be able to offer 25 channels and will expand its coverage from 65 markets today to 107 by the end of 2009.
Audiovox, which in addition to in-car displays is the biggest manufacturer of indoor TV antennas through its RCA and Terk brands, also announced that it is expanding its “flat antenna” technology into new indoor and outdoor models. Following up on the success of the $60 RCA 1500 Flat Omnidirectional indoor antenna (which this reporter has tested successfully in the New York market), Audivox is coming out with new flat antenna models in high-black gloss to complement high-end flat-panel HDTVs. It is also introducing an $89 RCA flat outdoor model, the ANT 800, as well as a flat Terk unit that will sell for $119.
While the upcoming Feb. 17 analog turnoff is obviously driving antenna sales, Audiovox is emphasizing that using an over-the-air antenna also delivers the highest-quality picture for local HDTV broadcasts.
“Many people may not realize that over-the-air TV delivers the best HD picture,” said David Geise, president of Audiovox Accessories. “An off-air antenna optimized for the pickup of local digital channels is the best way to watch local channels. You get the full quality of HD before it is compressed by a pay TV operator. No matter how you’re your local HD looks from cable or satellite, I can assure you it will look even better from an antenna.”